Environmental management – guidance

Volunteering with Natural England: support directory

Find out about the support you would get as a Natural England volunteer to carry out your role safely and effectively.

Commitment

As a Natural England volunteer, you must:

The Volunteering Promise (PDF, 296KB, 3 pages) is an agreement between Natural England and its volunteers setting out what we can expect of each other.

Your welfare

Natural England wants you to enjoy your voluntary role and hope the support provided enables you to do this. If you need further support or guidance on anything relating to your volunteering please contact your supervisor or support adviser. If you feel unable to do this for any reason, please contact us in confidence:

Voluntary bat roost visitors (VBRVs)

Lucy Foster
Natural England
Juniper House
Murley Moss
Oxenholme Road

Kendal
LA9 7RL

National Nature Reserve and all other volunteers

Anne-Marie Knight
Natural England
County Hall
Spetchley Road
Worcester
WR5 2NP

Health and safety

Natural England’s volunteers have a responsibility, like paid staff, to carry out their role in a safe manner. Natural England therefore requires all our volunteers to consider the effect their actions may have on their own safety and that of other people.

Natural England provides the following information to all volunteers:

  • health and safety information as part of your induction
  • regular health and safety updates
  • training opportunities
  • personal protective equipment
  • fire protection information
  • lone working procedures

Reporting accidents

You must report all volunteering-related incidents, accidents, near hits and concerns to Natural England. It may seem unnecessary or even embarrassing, to report near hits, but near hits are ‘accidents waiting to happen’. By reporting them it:

  • prevents something similar from happening again and possibly harming someone
  • alerts Natural England to hazards we were unaware of
  • helps create a safe and healthy working environment for everyone
  • complies with any external reporting requirements
  • helps Natural England address training, guidance or equipment issues

To report an accident, incident or near hit, phone the Natural England incident reporting line on 0300 060 0100 as soon as possible or complete the incident report form and return to healthandsafety@naturalengland.org.uk.

Confidentiality and data protection

As with many voluntary and community organisations, Natural England volunteers provide personal information such as their address and telephone number when they register as a volunteer.

Personal data

Natural England collects personal data for administrative purposes, for reporting and statistical analysis and to allow us to contact you with matters of interest. It will not be used for any other purpose.

Data about your health is used to make sure that the voluntary role you undertake is suitable for your circumstances, and that you’re not placed in a position where your health and safety is at risk.

Expression of interest forms are kept confidentially by our volunteering team until a suitable placement is found (for up to 6 months) and then personal information is transferred to our secure volunteers database, and paper forms are destroyed.

Your bank details are shared with a third party to process out-of-pocket expenses.

Shared Services Connected Limited is an independent organisation, a directorate of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, which provides back office services to Natural England, including processing expense reimbursement to volunteers.

If you have any queries about the confidentiality of information you might provide, please email volunteer.enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk.

Handling confidential information

You may have access to confidential information, such as names and addresses of private individuals or locations of threatened species, while volunteering with Natural England. Natural England asks all of its volunteers to respect the confidentiality of such information, both during and after the completion of their placement.

Equal opportunities

It’s Natural England’s policy that all eligible people will have an equal opportunity for placement as a volunteer on the basis of their ability. This policy applies to all volunteers, irrespective of their sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, race, colour, religion, belief, nationality, ethnic or national origins. Natural England:

  • will treat its volunteers fairly, and understands that combining home and work life with a voluntary role is sometimes difficult
  • will always respect the right of the volunteer to decline a task at any time
  • believes that its volunteers should reflect our constituency of support in the local community - building the diversity of our volunteers is an important part of involving local people in our work

If you would like more information on equal opportunities, please email the volunteering team volunteer.enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk.

Claim out-of-pocket expenses

Natural England is changing to a new financial system. You can’t submit claims at the moment. A new form and guidance will be available shortly.

If you have an urgent enquiry email: volunteer.enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk or contact your volunteer supervisor.

Volunteering while claiming benefits

Volunteering may affect any entitlement to benefits unless you follow a few basic rules for good practice.

If you are in receipt of benefits, you should check with the relevant local benefits office whether there are any restrictions on the type and quantity of voluntary work you can be involved.

The following information will be useful when you inform the benefits office that you plan to, or are already registered as a volunteer with us as you:

  • aren’t required to provide any minimum amount of commitment
  • have no obligation to remain a volunteer for any length of time
  • must not receive more than out-of-pocket expenses

Insurance

In the event of personal, or third party, accident or injury Natural England ‘self-insures’ both volunteers and staff in the same manner (incidents are dealt with on a case-by-case basis).

This means that provided volunteers have not behaved negligently, have acted in good faith and followed all guidelines or instructions provided by an authorised person, Natural England will endeavour to support them in the same manner as it supports its staff.

Incidents or accidents, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, must be reported as soon as possible to Natural England following the accident reporting guidelines.

Driving vehicles

Natural England promotes the use of public transport wherever possible. However, where the use of public transport is impractical, volunteers may prefer to use their own vehicles.

Private vehicles

If you use your car during your voluntary role - for example to travel to and from a site - you must inform your motor insurance company. Most national insurance companies recognise that, as drivers do not make a profit from voluntary work, it’s not a ‘business use’ of a vehicle and therefore recommend that existing insurance premiums should not be affected.

The standard mileage rate for reimbursement, used by Natural England is classified as a non-profit rate by the Inland Revenue, under the Fixed Profit Car Scheme.

For information about business use insurance, see insurance and claiming expenses. If you still have queries then contact your supervisor or support adviser.

Average running costs

The 45 pence standard mileage rate offered by Natural England is sufficient to cover average running costs. The Automobile Association (AA) website gives details of average running expenses. This includes fuel, oil, tyres, servicing, repairs and replacements (it does not include standing costs of car ownership such as finance, road tax, insurance, breakdown cover or depreciation).

Maintenance responsibilities

Volunteers are responsible for the maintenance of their cars. Natural England accepts no responsibility for costs incurred for MOTs, insurance, servicing, repair, breakdown cover, depreciation, oil or fuel.